Hans Niemann - Innocent or Guilty?
Is he a cheater? Or a misunderstood genius?

Hans Niemann - Innocent or Guilty?

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Hello there, welcome to the Lightning Reports! Today I’ll be doing an opinion blog, which is exactly what it sounds like. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no, Lightning is giving his opinion on something? That's a terrible idea!” Why yes, yes I am giving my opinion on something. And I am so very sorry about that. I have largely avoided talking about the Hans Niemann drama, but enough people have said I should cover it, sooo here we go. Oh and also, just by the way, It should be noted that this blog does not necessarily reflect the views of - this is completely my opinion. 


  • Hans Upsets Magnus

Pretty much everyone knows about the Hans Niemann drama. The scandal has become so big that even those outside the world of chess are discussing it! Most of you know what happened. On September 4th, in round 3 of the Sinquefield Cup, Hans Niemann shook the chess world by defeating Magnus Carlsen with the black pieces. 

  • Magnus Withdraws

And then the very next day, the chess world was shocked again as Magnus announced he was withdrawing from the event on Twitter. In his tweet, he added a video titled, "If I speak I am in big trouble" which suggested that something fishy was going on. It was at this point that many began to speculate that Magnus believed Hans was cheating. 

And that is how it all started. After that, the chess world waited weeks for Magnus to say something, to confirm whether or not he believed Hans was cheating, but he was in no hurry. Some say this was due to legal matters. I say he was just trolling everyone and fueling speculation cause he's cool like that, but what do I know (Ok fine, it probably had something to do with legal matters - but that's way less fun!). But hey, that doesn't mean Hans had to stay quiet! Should he have stayed quiet? I mean, yeah, probably. At least, based on his cringe interviews, he should have stayed quiet. But talking is more fun.

  • Hans Speaks Out

Hans seemed quite unsure of the moves and would often ask what the engine was saying. He made a few awful mistakes that even I wouldn't make while analyzing games (well, ok, that's probably not true cause I'm kinda sorta bad at chess, but still, ya know what I mean). It was just very cringe and it wasn't what you'd expect from someone who beat Magnus. I mean, he basically got outplayed by GM Ramirez there during the analysis. But hey, guess what, he gave another interview on September 6th. I'm sure that made things better.

Ah, nope, that only made things worse! So, Hans admitted to cheating when he was 12 and when he was 16. But he says that's it, that's the only time he has cheated, and he regrets his mistake and is ashamed. He also said that he had never cheated in a tournament with prize money (other than when he was 12) or when he was streaming. It is later revealed that he was lying about a few things there, and to me, that is very important when trying to figure out if the man is innocent or guilty.

  • Magnus Makes A Statement

Now, as for Magnus, he waited weeks before doing anything about this. Before making a statement with words, Magnus took action on September 19th when he resigned on move 2 vs Hans in an online tournament game. 

I mean, that's one way to make a statement...

Later when asked about why he did this (although everyone already knew why), Magnus basically said he couldn't tell us, but go ahead and speculate. Oh, and he also mentioned that he thought Hans' mentor, Maxim Dlugy (who is a confirmed cheater - oh hey, maybe that's why his name was brought up here), must be doing a great job. That totally didn't add fuel to the fire. Totally.

But wait, there's more! Magnus gave another statement - this time by using words - on September 26th.

This was rather mysterious at the time as Magnus said he believed Hans has cheated more (and more recently) than he has publicly admitted. A lot of people didn't like that he said that, actually. But hey, he wasn't exactly wrong now was he? Nope.

  • Posts Hans Niemann Report

Lo and behold, what Magnus said turned out to be true as confirmed it somewhere in their 72 page but not really 72-page report on Hans Niemann (it's only like 20 pages of actual reading lol). Assuming you don't want to read all that, let me tell you what you need to know. says Hans has likely cheated in over 100 online games says Hans has likely cheated as recently as 2020 says Hans has likely cheated in multiple prize money events says Hans has likely cheated in rated games against high-rated well-known players, some of which were played while he was streaming says they cannot prove Hans cheated otb as they cannot find concrete evidence

From report on Hans Niemann... yikes

Alright, so that's not exactly good now is it. Call me crazy, but I think maybe, just maybe, Hans might have lied about a few things in that interview he gave. I thought he said he had only cheated online once when he was 12 and once when he was 16? I guess that was a lie. I thought he said he hadn't cheated in any prize money events other than when he was 12? I suppose that was also a lie. Oh, and I thought he said he had never cheated when he was streaming? Well. Guess what? That was also a lie. Oh, excuse me, these were likely lies. 

That is basically all that has happened so far. FIDE formed an investigatory panel for the Carlsen-Niemann controversy, and I truly look forward to seeing if they find anything. just posted a community update on recent events, so maybe go check that out. And yeah, we're all caught up to the present now. So, let's get to the goods.


  • Why I Think He Might Have Cheated

Let's start with some facts.

I believe these are all facts - do you disagree?

That's not great, and I'm not even sure I listed all the important things here. Now. As much as I want to believe Hans when he says he has never cheated otb, it's tough to do that. I mean, ok, can we agree that, based on his comments in the interviews and what said in their report, Hans is a liar? That makes it incredibly difficult to believe him when he says he didn't cheat against Magnus and never cheated otb. Now consider his suspicious behavior, his history of cheating online, and the fact that the greatest chess player in the world believes Hans cheated and has been very public about his opinion, and it's easy to see why many believe Hans Niemann is guilty. However, without any concrete evidence, let us not be so quick to condemn an innocent man, because he is innocent until proven guilty.

  • Why I Think He Might NOT Have Cheated

Again, here are some facts.

Once again, I believe these all to be facts - do you disagree?

First, has the best cheat detection out there. Hans said so himself. So if couldn't prove Hans is guilty, then I think that's already enough to show that he is innocent. Either that or Hans Niemann, a man who has been banned on multiple times, has somehow hoodwinked the cheat detectors into thinking he didn't cheat otb. Yeah, that doesn't seem likely to me. If couldn't prove it, I think we can already agree that, for now, Hans is innocent and did not cheat otb.

Even if you think he is guilty of cheating otb, can you tell me, realistically, how he did it? And at the Sinquefield Cup, where the anti-cheating measures are ridiculously strict? The people running the tournament couldn't, so they concluded nobody cheated.

Now, if you wanna talk about his cringe interviews, then yeah, I agree those were pretty bad and made things worse. But if you ignore all the cringe parts and the lies about how often he cheated, it makes sense. That line he prepared against Magnus based on a game nobody can find? Oh, that was a transposition, according to Hans. As for his blunders and cringe comments during the analysis? He was tired, understandably, and could not think properly.

Click on the image to go read @Rodgy's blog about Hans Niemann. He concluded that Hans is innocent.

What about the fact that he is a proven cheater? Yes, he has cheated plenty online, but to me, and this is definitely up for debate, otb chess is a totally different game from online chess. Otb chess means much more than online chess. It's far more serious with far more at stake. And cheating otb leads to worse punishment than cheating online. For Hans, cheating online meant nothing. After all, he managed to cheat over and over again and repeatedly get extra chances. Even now there is a path back to online chess for him! So why should he care about getting caught? But it's different otb. If he's found guilty, I would expect him to get banned from otb play for several years, and maybe even lose his title. It's a different game. And I say Hans being willing to cheat online doesn't necessarily mean he is so willing to cheat otb.

  • Here Is My Actual Opinion

First, let me just acknowledge that I am no more qualified than anyone else reading this to give an opinion on this topic. Now, let me do it anyway. As of right now, I'm on team Hans. He is currently innocent and did not cheat against Magnus. Why? Because couldn't prove that he cheated. It's that simple to me. has the best cheat detection out there, and they couldn't find concrete evidence that Hans cheated. Hans is innocent for now, and he shall remain innocent until proven guilty. Also, I don't think his game against Magnus is that suspicious anyway. 

Was his game against Magnus actually suspicious? You tell me.

Now, do I think he has cheated in any other otb games? Again, I'm gonna go with no for the same reason that found no proof. I've looked at both sides of this, the case for and against Hans, and there isn't enough there for me to justify saying Hans cheated. Could I say that he likely cheated? Oh yes, yes I could. There's no doubt he is very sus. But for now, I'll believe him. He did not cheat otb against Magnus, and he has not cheated in any otb games. That's my current opinion, and I'll stick with it until concrete evidence is presented against Hans Niemann.


Good job, you made it to the end. Thanks for reading, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post! What do you think about all this? What's your opinion? Let me know in the comments below - just remember to be polite and respectful and not start a war in the comments section. 

This is my current blog plan for the rest of 2022

My next post should drop sometime in November. I'm hoping to play otb once or twice next month, and unless I have nothing even remotely interesting to share, you'll get another Journey To NM post. Beyond that, I'll be posting about the top chess moments of 2022 at the very end of the year. I did this last year and it went fairly well, so why not do it again? Other than that, I have nothing else currently planned.

Again, thank you so much for reading, I truly hope you enjoyed reading this post. Share your thoughts below in the chattiest comments section on, and I'll cya there!